|SINGLED IN HIS FINAL AT-BAT. NATURALLY.|
|WORKING ON HIS POST-CAREER GOLF SWING.|
DEFINING THE PLAYER
- George Brett is one of only a few who starred in the 1980s and into the '90s who put up Hall of Fame numbers beyond reproach. To wit: He's the only player to win batting titles in three decades ('76, '80 and '90) and had the most hits of any third baseman with 3,154. He's also the fourth player to have a career .300+ average (.305), 300+ home runs (317) and 3,000+ hits. The others were Stan Musial, Hank Aaron and Willie Mays.
- So many iconic moments, but the one that defined him best occurred on Aug. 17, 1980, against the Blue Jays when he hit an eighth-inning bases-loaded double, his fourth hit of the game. His average stood at .401. Royals Stadium fans gave him a standing ovation when the number was displayed on the video board, and Brett acknowledge them by doffing his helmet and thrusting his arms skyward. It was the first time he reached .400 that season and would carry it into 16 of his final 36 games before settling at .390.
- When you bat just under .400, crush the nemesis Yankees with one mighty swing and win the AL MVP, you've defined yourself as the best in the league, which Brett did in '80. His three-run blast off Goose Gossage in Game 3 of the ALCS capped a 4-2 victory and the sweep. In addition to average, Brett led the majors in on-base percentage (.454), slugging (.664), OPS (1.118), OPS+ (203) and WAR (9.4). Throw in 24 homers and 118 RBI and he unequivocally owned the season.
FIVE FINAL FACTS
- Hit .375 in the '80 World Series, which the Royals lost in six games to the Phillies.
- His drive to .400 was helped by a 30-game hitting streak beginning on July 18 during which he hit .467 (57-for-122).
- Then there was the Pine-Tar Game in '83, remembered here.
- In his 21st and final season in '93, Brett hit .266 with 19 homers and 75 RBI. After his final game at home on Sept. 20, Brett kissed home plate, showing his love for the game, fearlessness of germs and acknowledgment of the Kansas City fans.
- Banged out his 3,000th hit in '92 against the Angels, but the celebration was short-lived after he was picked off first base. Oops.
|SECOND TO NONE IN 1980.|